Meet our Coaches
Capital Thunder has one of the most experienced coaching staffs in Northern California and has developed numerous players to continue the passion of hockey past the youth levels.
Our coaches believe that family is the center of every great hockey program. Hockey is about families coming together every week to support the children and their community.
2023 - 2024 coaching staff
Coach Hughes has been playing and coaching ice hockey for over 30 years. He is originally from Florida, where in high school he was selected from all goaltenders in the state to represent "Team Florida." He eventually moved to Connecticut to play for Sacred Heart University. For the last 10+ years Coach Hughes has been coaching for the Capital Thunder and Skatetown in-house programs. Coach Hughes is a USA Hockey level 4 certified coach.
Coach Wicks grew up in San Jose and started playing roller hockey when he was nine years old. After making the switch to goalie when at age 11, he played travel roller hockey for club and team USA at the Jr. Olympics. He spent middle school and high school playing for Pioneer High in San Jose. Shortly there after he relocated to Roseville and played on the Vacaville Jets 18A team. During his time as a freshman and sophomore, he found time and joined the house teams at the Sharks ice in San Jose. This is Coach Matt's first year coaching with Capital Thunder.
Coach Hitesman grew up playing hockey in Minnesota. After high school, he went on to play NCAA DIII hockey at Norwich University in Vermont. While on active duty with the Marine Corps, Coach Hitesman played on several representational teams in Japan and Germany. He has been coaching for 14 years and has coached at every level and age group from squirts to Juniors. He has also been a board member and advisor to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hockey and the Northstar Christian Academy in Alexandria, Minnesota.
Coach Cory has been coaching for eight years and has been with the Thunder for four. He has spent a lot of time playing pond hockey and outside of coaching he spends time with his family camping, skiing, hiking and swimming. Coach Cory also loves to decorate for Halloween and Christmas!
Coach Rusty has been with the Thunder for five seasons now, as both parent and coach. He played both ice and roller hockey from around age 10 through high school. He currently plays two nights a week in the local house league, at Skatetown, as well as coaches multiple youth, adult Learn To Play, and adult skills programs outside of CTYH. He is a self-proclaimed craft beer enthusiast (alright, maybe just a beer enthusiast), who enjoys woodworking as a hobby, watching his daughter’s travel soccer club and high school teams play, and enjoying ice time with his wife, who has been playing for a few years now (after deciding that spectating was probably much less fun than actually playing!)
Coach Joe has been playing hockey for over 30 years. His love of the game and being part of a team carried him through playing as a youth on the Capital Flames and as an adult on various men's leagues including the Fairfield Fire and Sacramento Fire teams. Joe has years of experience working with teens ages 11-14 as the coordinator for Roseville Fire Kids Camp. He has enjoyed sharing his love of the sport with his son, watching him learn, and spending time together on the ice. Outside of hockey, he loves spending time with his family, playing paintball, scuba diving, and avoiding yard-work!
Coach Steve has been playing hockey for over 25 years. He grew up in the bay area playing roller and ice hockey and was an assistant coach with the in-house high school team in San Jose. Steve was an assistant coach with the 14U B team during the 2022/2023 season. He is a USA Hockey Level 2 certified coach. His experience in coaching extends beyond hockey, as he previously worked as an assistant golf professional with the PGA of America. He taught golf to all age levels. Outside of hockey, he loves spending time with his family and traveling. Steve continues to play hockey in the Skatetown adult league.
Coach Francois has been playing hockey for over 40 years. He grew up in Quebec, Canada, and played competitively in the local youth league until he turned 18. Francois enjoys working with young athletes and helping them develop to their full potential. Francois has been coaching on and off in Canada & USA since 2000. After moving to California in 2019, he has kept busy helping the in-house league, Capital Thunder and subbing in the adult league. Outside of hockey, Francois loves spending time with his family, traveling and doing home improvement projects.
Coach Nowack is no stranger to hockey. He has played hockey since he was 8 and started playing travel hockey at age 11. Coach Nowack has been coaching in-house league Squirt/Peewee for five years, and has coached at the high school level as well. Coach Nowack also continues to play in the Skatetown adult leagues.
Coach Strinden grew up skating and playing hockey in North Dakota and has been involved with the sport in some fashion for over 40 years. Coach Strinden played youth and high school hockey in Grand Forks, ND and then began his coaching career in 1995. He is a USA Hockey Level 5 certified coach and has coached at various levels including youth, high school boys and girls varsity, North Dakota State Development camps & Tier 1 Girls, Northern Plains District Camps, and USA Hockey National Camps. Strinden has coached both Squirt and Peewee levels with the Capital Thunder since moving to Northern California in 2018 and has enjoyed being a part of the club. Away from the rink, he enjoys the outdoors and spending time with family and friends.
Coach Prior grew up playing travel hockey with the NorCal Rep club at the A and AA level. He went on to play Junior B for the Las Vegas Blackjacks and the Ventura Mariners as well as being part of the undefeated National Championship team from Ventura. Coach Prior has been coaching in-house league and plays in the Skatetown adult leagues.
Coach Riddle is from Toronto, Canada and has played at various competitive levels his entire life. Coach Riddle coached in San Jose as an in-house coach before moving to the Sacramento area. He began coaching for the Capital Thunder in 2019. He is a USA Hockey level 4 certified coach.
Coach Todd grew up in the Bay Area playing roller hockey and ice hockey. He played ice hockey at UC Davis and led the team as its Captain. Coach Todd returns to Thunder this year after having coached the 12UBB and 14UB teams. Outside of hockey, Todd enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors, camping, mountain biking and jamming on his guitar.
Coach Mike started playing street hockey with neighborhood kids around 5 years old and made the switch to ice at age 11 playing for Tri-Valley. After 18U he played Tier 3 Jr A hockey for Capital Thunder in the WSHL. While serving in the Army in Germany, he played on multiple military teams. At that time he also played semi-pro hockey in Germany’s third league.
Student Coach 12U
Coach Scott has been playing hockey for the past 30+ years. He began with roller hockey playing for the Mavericks in San Jose, CA. In college he played for the UC Davis roller hockey team placing 2nd in the nation in 1998. After college he played in several adult roller leagues. He switched to ice 12 years ago and continues to play hockey with Skatetown's adult league. Scott has previously coached roller hockey for the Davis Youth Roller Hockey League. He co-founded and was the head coach of the Lincoln Shooting sport team for 5 years. He has years of experience working with kids as a high school engineering teacher as well as volunteering as a Cub & Boy Scout leader. Off the ice, Scott enjoys time with his family, machining, as well as spending time outside off the grid.
Coach Lance has been involved on and off the ice with the game for 50 plus years. Starting out on Canadian rinks as a boy and playing in leagues in British Columbia and Alberta, his love for hockey took him into sports journalism writing for The Hockey News, Medicine Hat News and metro newspaper Vancouver Province. He also worked as a regional guest commentator on Oilers radio during the high flying years of the Wayne Gretzky era in Edmonton. Lance covered the Western Hockey League, and specifically NHL teams' the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames as a beat reporter. He comes back to coaching this season after being inspired by his two sons who currently play in the Thunder program! His passion off the ice is the hockey memorabilia he continuously collects for his sons, and spending time with his wife Caprice and boys' Thomas and Andrew. Lance considers himself a hockey aficionado right down to importing his Tim Horton coffee from Canada!
Coach Bruce started playing hockey in norther California 50 years ago and has been coaching in northern California for 40 years. He knew he wanted to coach when he was a bantam and never looked back. This is his 19th year with the Capital Thunder, having coached at all levels. He’s a great outdoorsman as he enjoys backpacking and camping, but also loves to golf! He loves spending time with his family and is ready to be a grandpa!
Student Coach - Goalie